I always expect to get knocked out when evolving but this feels slightly different. I don't feel like I'm being pulled downward into slumber but quite literally being pulled downward!
I can feel my consciousness being pulled down into my core, dragged away from its home in my ant body in a non-pain free process.
What the heck is going on here!? I was just about to evolve and enjoy my rise to triumph! What the heck is this? Is this some punishment for hitting Tiny too much? He deserved it! I swear!
Did I kill too many humans? Is there god going to take punishment on me for reaping juicy experience from them? Those were bad people! Probably!
To tell you the truth I don't know!
Despite my protestations and desperate flailing with my mind I have absolutely no control. Like a water balloon held in an iron fist my mind can only slosh about as it is inexorable pulled away, into the core, and then down, further down. A tiny thread like tendril has extended from the dark and connected to my core and it's through this thread that I am drawn, dragged even.
Like Alice tumbling down a rabbit hole I can sense myself sinking down a winding path, twisting here, turning there and always spiralling further downward, to the very center.
Of what I have no freakin' clue. As a disembodied mind I don't really have access to a whole lot of sensory options. None, is the precise number now that I think about it. I think Vibrant would die of sheer boredom in this place! Not to mention Tiny, he'd nothing to fight! Or eat….
Crinis would probably be quite fine though, now that consider it. She'd miss the sensation of touch obviously but she's used to going without the others…
I continue to babble to myself to on the surface level of my mind mainly to distract from the sheer existential terror I'm experiencing.
I’M FREAKING OUT OVER HERE!
It isn't often your consciousness is quite literally dragged out of your body and pulled to a new location whilst you spin, completely blind and unaware of the process going on? How often could that possibly happen to a person!? It's only the second time I've ever experienced this sensation!
The realisation stills my pounding… mental… heart.. For a single second.
Actually… I did go through this whole thing before once didn't I?
I can remember, vaguely, what it felt like when I … died, I guess? I could feel my mind slipping away from my body, pulled out and dragged through who knows what to who knows where. The hunger and sensation from my old body just faded away then everything went white and then…
[Then you heard a voice which welcomed you to your new world]
Yeah! Then Gandalf spoke to me and everything got started on this crazy antventure…
[Is that what you call me, young one?]
Well….. Yeah? That is certainly the voice of the Gandalf the Grey and I'll say the same even if you don't let me pass…
…. Doesn't matter I suppose. What's going on here exactly O Bearded One? Could I perhaps be returned to my body please?
[Your core has reached the level of density required for me to reach out to you in this way young Anthony. It is kind of … traditional, that I speak to those like you personally at this point of their new journey]
Uh…. Don't you talk to me almost constantly? Every time I level up and so on?
[Those communications are a little more … subconscious. For me to reach out to you with my active mind requires a little more… sturdiness on your part. You have reached this point very quickly I must say, you must have adapted to the monstrous life well]
That sturdiness comment is a little disturbing. I reached this point quickly? Compared to what? The other people like me? Just how many people do you drag in here Gandalf? Are you in the habit of abducting people?
Can I go away now? Please?
[I reach out to grasp an existence like yours and bring them into this world periodically. It helps… various things]
What do you mean 'like me'? I don't recall there being anything particularly special about me?
[Oh you don't? I have found it takes a certain resilience of mind, a certain …. Insanity, to allow a sentient creature such as a human to survive the transition to life in the Dungeon of this world without… breaking. I try to find souls such as yours, souls that have lived a life of deprivation and suffering. I find they are better equipped to handle the madness, slaughter and solitary life of a monster]
But… I don't particularly see myself as having suffered a horrible life or anything though? It was bit tough sometimes but, everybody hurts, you know?
(There is a slight stunned silence between the two us for a moment)
[You starved to death at age fifteen….]
Well … yeah I know that right? But I always thought that was a bit more common than people gave it credit, you know? People starve to death all over the world, many of them younger than me. That's not so bad.
(I'm not sure that Gandalf was quite expecting the response he is getting)
[Weren't you also abandoned by your parents?]
I wouldn't necessarily say abandoned… They did disappear one morning with all of their clothes and any belongings that were worth anything. Not to mention my relatives immediately stopped answering my calls, leaving me stranded with debtors on the door…. But hey… could have been worse.
[Could have been worse?!]
Sure! … Could have had my leg cut off.
[Didn't that happen too?]
Well…. A bit.
Fine! Sheesh! So what!? I still had my pets at least.
[Ah yes, you're pet colony of ants. You fed them everything you had, didn't you? Until you starved to death]
Can we stop talking about the death and such? I'm more of a forward looking person…
[Would you describe it as sane for a person to feed a colony of ants above themselves to the point they died from it?]
Not everyone has my sense of responsibility and devotion Gandalf, what can I say?
[That is the reason I reincarnated you as an ant, by the way, I thought it would be a … comforting form for you]
So it really was pet ants = ant rebirth!? Dammit!
[You don't like it?]
…. It worked out ok in the end but I have to say Gandalf, it was quite a shaky start!
[Yes, many don't make it past the first few days, despite my best efforts]
So .. What happens to those who … don't make it?
[Death, of course]
[I hope you can continue to succeed young Anthony, who knows, perhaps I'll see you in person one day]
In person? Like.. You're not a spirit or something? Where the heck are you?
[If you go down far enough, you should find me]
I just might you know! (not in a million years)
[You may not have a choice… Good luck!]
With that I feel my mind once again being manipulated by a power beyond its control, flung back out of wherever the heck I've been and up, up, up through the tendril and slammed back into my core.
From my core I can feel my consciousness once again settle inside its rightful house. Before I can even begin to process the bizarre conversation with He of the floppy hat I sink slowly into sleep as the evolution process takes hold of me properly.